Sabbath Rest

After a recent Facebook post, several of you asked about our celebration of Sabbath. I've been personally studying and reading about Sabbath for the past 2 years. It grew out of my minimalism/simplistic reading. While two years seems like a long time, I haven't been solely devoted to this topic. Rather, I pick it up, enact what I read, and then learn more. It's a slow digestion of a very large and moving command.

While browsing the shelves at our local homeschool curriculum exchange store, I found a book by Martha Zimmerman entitled Celebrating Biblical Feasts in Your Home and Church. For a girl who has been mingling with Jewish traditions since a babe, there was no question of it returning home with me.

I love that the book presents the Jewish feasts from a Messianic perspective. Celebrating Passover becomes so much richer when the story of the exodus is combined with Jesus' redemption of our lives! Zimmerman also gives recipes and an outline of what to do, what to say, and how to prepare for each feast. You get the meaning and understanding behind the feast and then the steps to do it.

For our family, I took the weekly sabbath ritual and modified it slightly to our family's needs. My goal was to keep the meaning while making it practical for our stage of life. What this translates as is that sometimes we follow a traditionally Jewish meal, other times we have pizza; sometimes we celebrate on Friday, other weeks we celebrate Saturday and sometimes we skip a week. However, we strive to finish all cleaning and chores before we sit down to table. We always set the table fancy, usually with a table cloth, cloth napkins, china, and a table arrangement from nature. Our service goes as follows:

  • Mother prays and lights candles
  • Father blesses children and mother
  • Singing of "Bless Our Home"
  • Blessing of the Cup, Washing of Hands, and Blessing of Bread
  • EAT!
  • Prayer of grace to end the meal

After the meal, we clean up-- together. Then we spend the remainder of the evening playing a game, reading aloud as a family and enjoying each other's company. For the day or days (if we celebrate on Friday we extend until Sunday evening), we fill our time with family, service to others, worship and strive to keep God at the forefront of our thoughts.  As our children grow older, we hope to spend more concentrated time individually and corporately studying God's word. We try very hard to not clutter our Sabbath with errands or other routine tasks. When we do need to drop by the grocery or stop at the bank, we give ourselves grace and keep going. We're not interested in making this a legalistic thing.

What I can't show you via blog or have you experience by reading is the effect of this ritual. Literally, as I open our time with prayer I can feel the stress, the crazy, the yuck from the week dissolving-- almost trickling off my back. My children sit and anticipate with glee helping and participating in the service. My husband speaks words of encouragement to our children and to me. It is such a renewing experience. God intended it to be restorative yet I am always surprised when He fulfills His promise. There is something mysterious about how my soul yearns for Sabbath. And by the number of times I am asked during the week "is tonight Sabbath?" my children are rejuvenated by it too.

I've stopped praying for rest and started to live it. 

It seems silly to say, but I hear so often from others that they wish they could find time to rest, relax, enjoy family time. God has already provided rest, we have forgotten to obey and therefore, miss out on a blessing deep and rich and full of spiritual significance. All we need to do is go and keep the Sabbath holy. 

Other readings on Sabbath:
  • Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner
  • Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn
  • Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity by Keri Wyatt Kent

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